While we were on our short break last weekend, I was on the deck of the ferry while my husband was watching the England Word Cup match. I sat on the warm deck to read my book, feeling as though I was on a cruise! I heard some excited shouting from the deck above me and when I looked up, I saw a young man with Downs Syndrome. He was having a brilliant time being buffeted by the wind, he was leaning into the breeze and pretending to be blown away by it. I sat watching him for ages, he was so happy and absorbed in his windy game and he had no inhibitions at all about the noise that he was generating, but I enjoyed the happy sounds.
His father was close by, but not too near so as to cramp his son’s style. I admired that approach and it reflects how I tend to be with Joshua too – he needs his independence and to have what he finds fun, even if it is not the traditional view of what teenagers typically do. I try to stand back when Joshua is dancing or exploring in public, he cannot be left totally alone due to his seizure activity and his lack of sense of danger, but I do tend to keep at a safe distance, so that he can feel safe but also gain some sense of independence, no matter how small. I have now found peace with other people’s staring or reaction to Joshua bouncing in front of a busker or waving at strangers in a cafe. If it makes him happy and does not harm anyone, in fact those two things actually benefit others, then carry on Joshua and fill your boots, I say!
As we get older, typically we worry more about what others think of us and our behaviour, as a result, becomes more inhibited and less natural. This boy on the deck was loving the sensory experience of leaning into the gusty wind, he was having fun and not caring what anyone else thought of him. I think that he had the right idea and I wish many more of us would feel free enough to ‘dance as though nobody is watching’ as I was able to share his joy, just by watching him.